How do you grow business?
If you look at a typical job description for an agency Account Manager, among the many skills required for the role you’ll usually see something like “must be able to develop business” or “will have an ability to grow the account”.
However, when you are lucky enough to land the job, rarely do you receive any guidance on how to do it.
And if you’re honest, do you know what to do to grow business? Do you have a formula, an approach, a proven system?
Or are you leaving it to chance?
Relying on your sparkling personality and superb organisational skills to get you by?
The reality is a new account manager is usually thrown in at the deep end and left to get on with it. Zero guidance.
It’s only after 3 months when you’re sitting at your first performance review feeling pretty good because you can’t believe how much you’re enjoying the job, how many new friends you’ve made and how excitingly hectic your life has become, that the subject of account growth comes up.
What? Your account didn’t reach forecast? Oh dear.
Well then so where do you even begin?
How do you successfully develop your account?
Successful account development is about focussing on helping the client solve their problems.
Clients want you to be able to listen to them, walk in their shoes, understand their world, their industry, their organisation and their own personal challenges and motivations.
As you get to know as much as you can about the client’s business and their own individual challenges, you start to identify opportunities in which you can help.
Besides, without understanding their challenges and their world, how do you know what you are offering is relevant to their needs?
Why should they even entertain the idea of buying any more of your services or indeed choose to work with you again if you don’t even understand what they’re going through in their business?
Find out as much as you can about the client’s business
The only way you’ll know their business needs is by asking them relevant questions and researching.
The more you build up a picture of their business and understand your client and their frustrations, the more help you can offer.
And the help they need may not be your services.
But consider for a moment the help you can give them to solve their problems…..
……your time, your contacts, your knowledge, your professional opinion etc.
This kind of help builds trust.
Trust is one of the foundations of an enduring business relationship.
So as you ask your client relevant questions to help you build up a picture of their business and circumstances, where do you capture all the responses?
In your client development plan.
The benefits of a client development plan
The client development plan is a place to capture information about the client’s business; their strengths, weaknesses, competition, market issues, operational challenges, key contacts etc.
It helps you spot growth opportunities by marrying up their challenges with your services.
Or if you don’t currently have a particular service that will support their business need, perhaps you can develop a solution or partner with a provider who can?
The benefits of having a client development plan are:
a) You have an action plan for developing the client relationship
b) It provides a resource for anyone wanting to get up to speed quickly on the account e.g. new starters (saving training time)
c) It can be used as a presentation to other agency staff when reviewing agency progress on the account
d) The template can be used over and over again for all accounts
So do you have a client development plan for your accounts?